Kauai Island Excursiuon Part I

Ein Pier ragt in die Hanalei Bucht mit Blick auf die Berge

Today we are going to explore another island.

Deck Chairs in a typical garden

Smith’s Family Garden Luau

Kauai’s nickname ist the Garden Isle and there is a reason for it. Since the mountains on Kauai aren’t as high as on the other islands, the rain is more widely spread. Plus it rains a bit more than on the other islands. But don’t worry, long lasting downpours are rather seldom. On the other hand the region around Mount Wai’ale’ale is one of the wettest on this planet.

Aloha written with flowers

Smith’s Family Garden Luau

The Garden Isle, some facts

You will be landing in Lihue which is Kauai’s capitol. It is not really a city (as of 2007 Lihue had 6.100 inhabitants). There are three regions where most of the hotels are located. At the northern shore in Princeville you will find the spectacular St. Regis Princeville, a truly luxury resort. Close by is the Westin Ocean Resort Villas, which offers large apartments for a more individual vacation. And than there is just one more resort that offers a large variety of condominiums. On Kauai’s east coast in Kapaa and Wailua you will find the hotels that cater more to a clientele with a lower budget, while on the south coast around Poipu you will find again the more luxurious hotels.

Pier on one of Hawaii's most beautiful beaches

Hanalei Bay and Pier

Kauai’s north shore

Most of the beaches on Kauai aren’t that spectacular. With one exception: Hanalei Bay on the North Shore. This is one of the most beautiful beaches of Hawaii, if not the world. You will find beaches in Wailua and Kapaa, but due to strong currents swimming is dangerous if not impossible. On the south shore around Poipu you will find swimmable beaches, but here again you will have to be careful due to the currents. But you can always go for a walk on the beach, especially for sunrise or sunset. So why should you visit Kauai?

Here’s my explanation:

Hikers paradise

If you like hiking, you found your new favorite spot. Large parts of Kauai are only reachable by foot, boat or air. And so we will start our island tour with one of the most impressive hikes, I know: the Kalalau Trail. If you want to go on this 11-mile hike there are e few things to be considered. There are guided tours that walk parts of the trail and then turn around to go back to the starting point. If you plan a tour of the complete trail you will need two days and bring a sleeping bag. There are very limited cabins and refuges available. You will also have to bring your provisions since you can’t buy anything along the path. In case you plan to do the whole strech, you will have to go to the parks office and give notice of your departure and how long you plan to be gone for. Please go to aboves link for more information. If you are not back in time, the rangers will send in the troups and start a search. This sounds maybe a bit harsh, but along your path there are a lot of small creeks, that can turn into ravaging streams after a heavy downpour in the mountains. Your award will be pure nature, hidden waterfalls and a really unspoiled part of Hawaii.

beautiful beach in front of steep cliffs, seen from the ocean

This is where Kalau Trail ends

Hanalei, a quaint small town

The town of Hanalei on Kauai is probably known to most of you from the movies ( „50 first dates“ and the „Descandants“ are only 2 of the ones that have been shot here). In the late 1960’s and 1970’s Hanalei was home to a rather large hippie community. Today it has around 450 inhabitants, that live here permanently. The bay is enlaced by mountains on one side and towering cliffs on the other. So it is well secluded and you can go for a swim and snorkel. During the winter months when the trade winds are blowing from the northwest it can get a bit bumpy though. One of the most popular picture spots on Kauai is the pier. Especially during sunset. Here you will find them as kitchy, but awesome, as you would expect from Hawaii (You won’t need Photoshop to turn them into artwork). If you feel a craving for a bite to eat, you should go to Bubba’s . Their burgers are made of 100% Kauai Beef and sooo delicious.

one of the most beautiful beaches in Hawaii

Hanalei Beach

You should take your time for a stroll in this town, where you will find quite a few art galleries that sell Hawaiian inspired artifacts.

green taro fileds in front of mountains

Taro fields near Princeville

If you continue your tour, you will pass a large amount of Taro fields. They look a bit like Rice fields, since the Taro plants do need quite a lot of water. As I explained in one of my earlier posts, the starchy roots used to be the staple food for the Hawaiians. They made poi from this root, a mash that looks and tastes like glue, at least to me. But if you dry them and make a flour out of it, you can bake it into rolls that are very tasty and have a purple color.

As I mentioned above Princeville is home to two luxurios resorts and a small shopping center. The St.Regis is well blended into the sourounding cliffs. Generally speaking there is a rule on Kauai that prohibits any building to be higher than the highest palm tree, this is why you won’t find any huge buildings, but resorts that seem to spread endless. In the larger resorts it can happen that you will have to walk for 10 minutes from your room to the reception area. But hey, you are on the Garden Isle and so these walks will lead you most of the time through beautiful tropical gardens.

Our next stop is the Kilauea Lighthouse. This is a great place for yet some more astonishing pictures, plus there is a nature trail telling you a lot about flora and fauna on Kauai in particular, but the rest of the Hawaiian islands as well. From the lighthouse you will have an amazing view across the sheer endless blue of the Pacific Ocean. If you are lucky you will spot one of the rare  Laysan albatross (Moli in Hawaiian), that can spent years at a time on the ocean before touching land. These birds have a wing-span of up to 6feet and are very impressive to be watched.

The east coast

We continue direction Kapaa through green hills. There is not much to see on this stretch of Kauai. But soon you will see a mountain ridge that the Hawaiians call the Sleeping Giant. If you look at the far end of this ridge you really can determine a nose and a chin. Kapaa as well as Wailua is home to a broad variety of resorts. Amongst them I just want to talk about one. The Coco Palms resort, close to the Wailua River, used to be a hot spot amongst the stars in the 1950’s. Parts of Elvis‘ film „Blue Hawaii“ was filmed here. Unfortunately hurricane Iniki damaged it severly in 1992. Ever since it just stood there and was tumbling down. The good news is that with Hyatt there finally is somebody here to restore it and bring back life to this historical treasure. When it will open in 2017 I am sure it will become a remarkable resort again.

a mounatin called sleeping giant seen through palm trees

The sleeping giant

Here on the shores of Wailua River we will end our tour today. In my next post I will talk about the rest of Kauai, which has a lot more to offer as you will see.

Have you been to Kauai before? Any recommendations for first timers? I am looking forward to your comments.

Mahalo for your attention.

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